pages A North Korean Life

by Michael Simon

Published in Issue No. 211 ~ December, 2014



Sprinkled along the dirt road every meter or so amongst rocks and twisting weeds lie grains of rice. Probable escapees from a passing truck, a bag somehow punctured during the travel and the unevenness of the road jarring them free, bouncing down the stacks and funneling though the uneven wood boards of the truck bed. A small girl, thin and wild haired, crouches on her haunches and with delicate fingers picks up one piece and a time, placing them in the cup of her other hand. She inches forward by sliding her feet, one at a time, the thinly worn shoes grinding down further than they had been made to go. Her head moves quickly in front of her, bowed in an attempt to distinguish what is earth and what is food. After a few shuffles of feet, her eyes begin to take notice of the difference more quickly and her hand seems to be in a constant movement from ground to cupped hand. She gets to a point where the rice stops appearing and only rocks and dirt continue to wherever the road goes. She rises while carefully balancing her cupped hand, focusing on preserving the contents and preventing the same fate that had found the rice on the road in the first place. She moves into the thicket of thin trees and low bushes that line the road in a stomping glide that only children can produce. She makes her way through the maze of nature, and having been this way before, gingerly steps over low protruding branches, raising her cupped hand to keep greedy leaves from stealing her find. She sees her house in the distance and an excitement springs up inside of her, for she can exclaim to her parents they will be able to eat today.

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Michael Simon is an American currently teaching English at an adult institute in Seoul, South Korea. He studied theatre in university and has just completed his M.Ed in TESOL. His other work can be seen in Lungfull!, Boston Literary Magazine, Eunoia Review, and Lake City Lights. You can also view his street photography of everyday Korea on Flickr at